It all looks the same.
Is anything new anymore?
Cobblestones, squares, kebab shops, palm trees, fountains, another f’ing cathedral.
Months and months on the road, there is no denying that great sights start to blend together and lose their once dazzling sheen.
You are no longer giddy with excitement and there is an absence of that jaw-dropping awe. I knew it happened to me when I was standing in the desert, looking up at the Great Pyramids and thought, ‘meh.’
For those out there traveling long term, there is no denying that some kind of burnout is inevitable, even if you are still excited, but just so damn sick of packing and unpacking your bag. So what to do to keep burnout at bay? Here are some ideas for you.
Keep Burnout at Bay
This is probably the best advice that seems perhaps the most counterintuitive. Maybe you feel homesick and want to speed up your travels so you can get ‘home,’ wherever that is. But why not simply make your life out in the world more like ‘home?’ Stop rushing through cities, towns, and islands and kick back and stay awhile. Unpack your bag (my favorite thing to do!) and stay in one place to really get to know it.
Get a job, volunteer, take a salsa class or find some other way to connect with people (other travelers and locals). My most memorable experiences were when I immersed in society and did SOMETHING – like working in a café in Melbourne, or volunteering at Crisis UK over Christmas, or doing an English Immersion ‘camp’ in Spain. I was living life, connecting with people, and didn’t feel like a tourist at all. I was part of society and had a structure and purpose.
Get Online and then Go Offline
The internet is truly an amazing resource to find local activities, meet-ups, couchsurfing groups, expats groups, etc. Without it my trip (and life) would be entirely different. This is just another way you can connect with locals and build a little community for yourself in your new home. I am always amazed at how easy it is to find ‘new’ friends where I never had any before. There are great sites and tools out there, you just have to use them. Once you make these virtual connections, get offline and go meet face to face. That’s the best part.
Whenever I’ve either house-sat, or used couchsuring or got an apartment rental, there was something much less transient about it. I lived in a real neighborhood. I had a kitchen. I could unpack my things. I could sit on my couch and chill at night if I didn’t feel like going out just for the sake of it.
I think the biggest keys (yes, besides those house keys) to prevent burnout are all about becoming more local. Insulating yourself less from your new ‘home’ and meeting the people and living like a local. Whenver I did this, I made wonderful new friends (with very little conscious effort) and made memories that I cherish much more than seeing any museum or ‘tourist’ site.
Give Yourself a Break
As much as people may be jealous of your year-long ‘vacation.’ We know full well, it’s not a vacation. Traveling full time can be hard work. It can be daunting and exhausting thinking about where you will ‘live’ every week or so. So besides taking a literal ‘break’…give yourself a break. Let yourself off the hook for feeling tired or down. Although our photos tell a different story, not every moment on the road is roses and sunshine. It’s life intensified and you will feel it all. So let yourself.
Does that mean I’ve found the cure to travel burnout? Of course not. When I take short trips, I still find it hard to immerse and do what I have suggested above if I’m only going for a week. And I still haven’t recaptured that thrill and excitement of the first year of my trip, but maybe like a good relationship, it has settled into a comfortableness – a love and respect for travel and for the world itself.